Let’s continue our look at some of college baseball’s all-time starting lineups. Unlike the others where we take a look at the most successful program’s all-time nines, let’s put together a team of all-time Omaha greats into one ultimate College World Series starting roster.
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Here is how we picked the team: We dug deep in the CWS record books, looking at some accomplishments from the players’ professional career, but really zooming in on their stats and accolades in the College World Series. Obviously, there was also consideration given to their positional fits.
There have been several all-time College World Series teams and a Legends team put together in the past. Here we take the best of the best, fielding a starting team with a designated hitter, and a few pitchers we deemed worthy of the highest CWS honor. It was no easy task, but certainly a fun one.
1B – Will Clark, Mississippi State | CWS appearance: 1985
Thunder and Lightning — the monicker the dynamic duo of Clark and Rafael Palmeiro earned— led the Bulldogs to the 1985 College World Series before both going on to become first-round picks that same season. Mississippi State gained two early victories before eventually being eliminated by the 1985 national champion Miami Hurricanes. Clark’s 1985 season, one which garnered him the Golden Spikes Award, cumulated with an All-Tournament Team selection for a season in which he hit .425 with 25 home runs.
HAIL STATE STARTING NINE: The Bulldogs all-time starting lineup
2B – Bob Horner, Arizona State | CWS appearances: 1976, 1977, 1978
Although he later moved across the infield to play third base, during the 1977 season Horner and his loose mop of blonde curls were stationed at second. At the plate, he terrorized opposing pitchers, batting .444 with two home runs and nine RBI as the Sun Devils won the national championship with a 2-1 defeat of South Carolina. Horner was named Most Outstanding Player of that CWS and is the career record holder in CWS play with 20 RBIs. He would go on to pull off one of the more remarkable feats the next season, earning the first-ever Golden Spikes Award, becoming the first-overall pick in the MLB draft and winning National League Rookie of the Year all in the same season.
SS — Nomar Garciaparra, Georgia Tech | CWS appearance: 1994
The Yellow Jackets’ first CWS appearance ended with a 13-5 loss to Oklahoma in the title game, but that did not detract from Garciaparra’s excellent individual effort. He hit a pinch-hit home run and was named to the All-Tournament team, finishing the season with a .427 batting average, 16 home runs, 73 RBI and 33 stolen bases.
BELIEVE THE BUZZ: Georgia Tech’s all-time nine
3B -— Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State | CWS appearances: 1986, 1987
After making the CWS All-Tournament team in 1986, Ventura entered the 1987 tournament riding a Division I record 58-game hitting streak. But it ended against the arm of Jack McDowell, a starter for Stanford and later Ventura’s teammate with the Chicago White Sox. Still, Ventura batted .469 and .428 in his first two seasons in Stillwater and finished his career with seven doubles in the College World Series, still tied for most all-time while his .459 average is fifth.
OF — Fred Lynn, Southern California | CWS appearances: 1971, 1972, 1973
Before he became the first player to win the American League’s Rookie of the Year and MVP award in the same year, Lynn helped the Trojans take three consecutive national championships. He made the All-Tournament team in 1971 and during his college career batted .320 with 28 home runs and 111 RBI — all with a wood bat. A nine-time AL All-Star, he was a solid all-around outfielder for Boston and California hitting 306 home runs and winning four Gold Gloves.
OF — Barry Bonds, Arizona State | CWS appearances: 1983, 1984
The best slugger in professional baseball history wasn’t an easy out during his days with the Sun Devils. The team failed to reach the championship game in both years, but Bonds made the CWS All-Tournament team in each appearance and set a tournament record by getting a hit in seven consecutive at-bats. In 1984 at ASU, Bonds stroked 11 home runs and stole 30 bases. Before Bonds went on an all-out assault of the MLB record books, he stuffed the CWS record books with a top 10 mark in batting average (.438) and slugging percentage (.781).
SUN DEVIL GREATS: Take a look at Arizona State’s all-time nine
OF — Mark Kotsay, Cal State Fullerton| CWS appearances: 1994, 1995
The final outfield spot came down to J.D. Drew, Terry Francona, and Kotsay. Drew slugged four home runs in the 1995 College World Series, while Terry Francona strung together seven straight hits on his way to Most Outstanding Player honors in Arizona’s 1980 championship run. Kotsay was a beast in 1995, winning the Golden Spikes Award as well as Most Outstanding Player honors in Cal State Fullerton’s third national title. He went 9-for-16 in the 1995 CWS and his .563 average and 1.250 slugging percentage are still top 10 marks today, while his career CWS .517 average, 1.103 slugging percentage, and two grand slams are second to none.
TITANS LEGENDS: Check out Cal State Fullerton’s all-time nine
C — Adley Rutschman, Oregon State | CWS appearances: 2017, 2018
Rutschman is the most recent player to earn a spot in the lineup, but his record-setting 2018 is certainly worthy. The Beavers’ catcher set the record for most hits in a series with 17 while tying the mark for the second-most total bases (26) and RBIs (13) on the way to Most Outstanding Player honors for the national champs. While Oregon State couldn’t make it to Omaha in his final campaign, Rutschman finished strong and was the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft.
DH — Pete Incaviglia, Oklahoma State | CWS appearances: 1983, 1984, 1985
The mustachioed masher was a one-man onslaught who made aluminum sing during his three years in Stillwater. He earned a spot on the CWS All-Tournament Team in 1983 and 1984, and it’s understandable if he didn’t see many good pitches during the 1985 CWS after a season where he batted .464 with 48 home runs and 143 RBI. The Cowboys came up dry in their title quest and Incaviglia spent 12 seasons playing for more than a half-dozen big league teams, finishing with 206 HRs and 655 RBI.
SP — Dave Winfield, Minnesota | CWS appearances: 1973
Widely considered the greatest to ever play in Omaha, the question is what couldn’t the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Golden Gopher do on an athletic field? Drafted by professional teams in football, basketball and baseball, Winfield earned his way to Cooperstown with his hitting and defense but in Omaha overpowered opponents with his pitching. He struck out 29 batters in two appearances on the mound — still tied for third all-time — and batted .363 in four games and was selected as Most Outstanding Player in spite of the Gophers not reaching the finals. Winfield was a 12-time major league All-Star who hit 465 home runs and won seven Gold Gloves.
GOPHER GREATS: Here’s Minnesota’s all-time nine
SP — Steve Arlin, Ohio State | CWS appearance: 1965, 1966
Arlin finds his name in the College World Series record book in quite a few spots, but a memorable game in the 1965 CWS put Arlin on this list. He hurled 15 innings of shutout baseball in which he struck out 20 in a 1-0 victory to escape elimination in 1965 CWS before winning Most Outstanding Player for the Buckeyes in 1966. He’s second all-time in College World Series career wins (4), innings (47), and strikeouts (57) and is still the all-time leader in fewest hits allowed (16) and ERA amongst pitchers who have hurled at least 30 innings in Omaha (0.96).
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RP — Huston Street, Texas | CWS appearances: 2002, 2003, 2004
This one is pretty simple. A closer is judged by how many saves he gets and no other reliever has more in a series than Street’s four in 2002. His five in his career are also tied for the most ever in College World Series play. The Longhorn took home Most Outstanding Player honors in Texas’ 2002 national championship season and secured a spot on the CWS Legends team for Rosenblatt Stadium announced in 2010.
Head coach — Rod Dedeaux, Southern California
Skip Bertman and Augie Garrido are undoubtedly sitting next to Dedeaux in the clubhouse, but the man with the most national titles gets the obvious honors as skipper. Candidates would fight, beg and stand in line to fill out this lineup card. Dedeaux gets the nod because he led the Trojans to 10 national titles between 1958 and 1978, including five in a row to start the 1970s.
Honorable mentions: Todd Walker, LSU; Terry Francona, Arizona; J.D. Drew, Miami (FL); Sam Fuld, Stanford; Dustin Ackley, North Carolina; Landon Powell, South Carolina; Ryan Garko, Stanford; Burt Hooton, Texas.